Highlights of Ecuador & Galapagos Islands


11 Days|10 Nights



Fixed Departure

Explore Quito & Cuenca, two cities which are UNESCO World Heritage sites and combine these visits with other Ecuadorian highlights. Travel to the Northern Highlands and enjoy on your way a couple of small artisans towns and the Otavalo Market; admire stunning mountain landscapes- The Avenue of the Volcanoes- on the way to Riobamba and Ingapirca, the most important Inca remains in Ecuador and discover the unique fauna & flora of the Galapagos Islands.

Highlights of the Program

Fixed departure Minimum 2 passengers & maximum 10 passengers

English/Spanish speaking guides

Quito with the largest colonial area of South America

The Northern highlands

The Avenue of the volcanos

Ingapirca, the most important Inca remains in Ecuador

The unique Galápagos Islands

Map tour

Day by Day

DAY 1: Quito

Meet and greet the Expeditions tours representative at Arrival, outside customs. Assistance and transfer to the selected hotel. (Distance between Quito airport and the City one hour approximately).

DAY 2: Quito Colonial & Middle of the world (Half day tour)

This sightseeing excursion offers the best of Quito with its rich cultural legacy, ornate facades, and dazzling gilt altars. Quito’s Historical Center, the largest and best preserved in Latin America was built over the ruins of the Inca’s northern imperial seat. Quito, founded in 1534 became the first city in the world to be declared by UNESCO in 1978 a World Cultural Heritage site.

The visit will take you to iconic places such as the Plaza Grande or Independence Square to have a view of important colonial buildings: The Archbishop’s Palace, The Metropolitan Cathedral, The Government Palace, as well as other representative examples of colonial art and architecture as the Santo Domingo Convent. After visiting the old colonial Quito, a short trip to the north of the city of Quito will lead us to our planet's Latitude 0´0´0´. Here we will visit the Intiñan museum or the Temple of the sun Museum where we will be guided through the wonderful world of the Andean Cosmovision (view of the nature and the cosmos), Culture and Traditions. Afternoon: Enjoy time at leisure to explore Quito at your own pace.

DAY 3: Andean Handicrafts & the Otavalo Market- Northern Highlands

An early start departing from Quito will take you due North on a beautiful scenic drive to the province of Imbabura, a magic land located at 2530 m.a.s.l. above the sea level surrounded by lakes and mountains of outstanding beauty. The day opens the possibility to learn about the customs of the people living in the area, the Otavalo Community, known around the world for their weaving patterns and textiles which pre-date the Spanish conquest. Their Indian fair is known for its colorful textiles, woven on back-strap and shuttle looms, its piles of ponchos and textiles, hats, Indian jewelry and creative handicrafts.

Close by is the town of Peguche where some of the Otavalo Indians live, this visit opens up the possibility to see the typical houses of the area, their way of living as well as an artisan center.

DAY 4: The Antisana Area & Riobamba – Central Highlands

Depart from Quito direction Riobamba. During this trip we will go through the Andean Region, covering approximately 400 km. This 400 Km. stretch of the Andes is rightfully known as “The Avenue of the Volcanoes” (German scientist - Alexander von Humboldt -1802). It is a breathtaking natural boulevard flanked by impressive volcanoes, both active and inactive and giant peaks covered with glaciers and perpetual snow. During this overland trip a stop at the Antisana Ecological Reserve is included to visit La Mica Lagoon where there will be an opportunity to walk in the surroundings of the Lagoon and learn about the moorlands (Andean Paramo) flora and fauna, it will bring also the opportunity to observe the Páramo vegetation in which the plants and animal life are both highly adapted to the extreme conditions of the highlands high winds, heavy precipitations and cold temperatures. In the afternoon continue direction Riobamba, founded in 1534 by the Spaniards.

A stop is included in the highest point of this route at a Mountain acclimatization lodge where you will learn about the tallest mountain in Ecuador, The Chimborazo, which at 6.268m.a.s.l. due to its location near the equator, arguably is the farthest point from the earth’s center.

DAY 5: The Fortress of Ingapirca - Cuenca – Southern Highlands

Depart from Riobamba direction south. The route offers beautiful panoramic views of the highlands and a good opportunity to see the changes in the scenery of the highlands with great opportunities to take pictures. Will drive through what it was the pre-Inca territory of the Cañari culture until the Inca empire started its expansion into Ecuador; will reach Ingapirca a name given by the Incas to the fortress and complex, the most important archaeological site left by the Inca Empire in Ecuadorian territory.

The Temple of the Sun is by far the most significant building in the complex. It was built in the Inca way with careful consideration of their beliefs, being sun and moon worshipers, and their knowledge of the cosmos. The Temple built high in the mountains at an elevation of 3.200 m.a.s.l. is positioned in such a way that at the right moment of the day, the sunlight would shine through the center of the doorway of the chamber at the top of the Temple. Located around two hours from the city of Cuenca, the Ingapirca Complex offers a fascinating blend of the Cañari and Inca architecture and vestiges of their culture on a single site. Visit the onsite museum which includes numerous samples of ceramic, textiles and metal works found on diverse digs around the area of influence of these two cultures, an evident prove of the expert hands of this pre-Hispanic communities. Walk around the remains of this ancient facility, learning about the living practices of the ancient cultures. After this visit the tour continues south direction Cuenca.

DAY 6: Cuenca half day tour

Visit Cuenca, the country’s third largest in size and population and a main icon of the southern Andes. Cuenca has preserved its rich colonial past, beautifully shown on its narrow streets, white houses with flower-pot balconies, impressive churches, with their majestic domes and towers. Not far from each other we encounter convents, museums, plazas covered with flowers and monuments, all surrounded by the scenery of green hills, mountains and the presence of four rivers that cross the city. For all its beauty and well preserved historical buildings, Cuenca was also declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 1999. This is a walking tour in the Colonial area of Cuenca to discover the beautiful churches and house facades; visit a few the of artisan centers where there is the opportunity to learn about the ceramic items, the famous straw hat also called ¨Panama hat¨, gold and silver jewelry and embroidery which are some of the handicrafts for which Cuenca is also known. Afternoon at leisure to explore Cuenca at your own pace

DAY 7: Cuenca/Guayaquil

After breakfast drive to Guayaquil. During this overland transfer, a journey of 4 hours approximately, there is the opportunity to enjoy beautiful panoramic views of the Southern Highlands as well as the drastic change in the climate and the vegetation when we start descending to the lowlands. Upon arrival to Guayaquil check-inn at the selected hotel and the afternoon is at leisure to discover Guayaquil at your own pace.

DAY 8: Guayaquil

At scheduled time transfer to airport to take the departure flight to the Galapagos islands. Note: Suggested flight - Please book the earliest flight from Guayaquil to Baltra airport- Galápagos Islands as well as the latest flight departing from Baltra airport to provide your clients with more time to enjoy the visit to the Galápagos Islands.

DAY 8: Baltra - Galapagos Islands

Upon arrival at Baltra airport and after complying with arrival procedures: Ingala Migration Card (TCT card) and payment of the Entrance fee to the Galapagos National Park go outside where the Expeditions Tours representative wiil be waiting to provide the transfer to Itabaca Channel (short ride of approximately 15 minutes), cross the channel to Santa Cruz Island (by local ferry approximately 20 minutes) and then overland transfer to Puerto Ayora town (approximately 45 minutes) where the hotel is located. The rest of the afternoon will be at leisure to explore Puerto Ayora or just relax in the hotel. We suggest the visit on your own to the Tortoise Breeding Center (former Charles Darwin Research Station).

DAY 9: Full day Navigation – (day tour)

At the scheduled time transfer to the meeting point where the navigation excursion starts. Navigation will be offered to one of the following islands: Isabela, or San Cristobal, or Bartolome, or Plazas, or North Seymour, or Santa Fe or Pinzon.

Important information to have in mind: The Itineraries and islands to be visited are subject to availability and operational days approved by the Galapagos National Park. The Navigation excursion is provided on sharing basis and will be confirmed according to the availability; if your clients have an specific preference to visit any of the above listed islands kindly let us know at the time of booking in order to check the availability and quote the program to the Galapagos Islands on FIT basis as the price of the package might suffer changes. Excursions in the Galapagos National Park area are provided with 1 local naturalist English/Spanish speaking guide for every 16 passengers. All navigation excursions are provided in boats with capacity between 16 and 26 passengers. All itineraries and sailings are subject to change due to Galapagos National Park change in the regulations or due to weather conditions. Light lunch is included during this excursion

DAY 10: Santa Cruz island - BAY TOUR (morning excursion)

At proper time transfer to the pier of Puerto Ayora to board the boat which will navigate around the Bay of Santa Cruz; the excursion includes a visit to La Loberia, a small island where there is the possibility to swim and to make superficial diving (snorkeling) next to the sea lions; the Love Channel, the Channel of the Sharks, the Cracks and the Beach of the Dogs. Enjoy observing sharks, sea lions, blue-footed boobies, iguanas and rays among other species. Note: Afternoon at leisure to enjoy your last day in the Enchanted Islands of Galapagos

DAY 11: Santa Cruz Island- Baltra airport- Guayaquil or Quito

At the scheduled time transfer from the hotel in Puerto Ayora to the airport located at Baltra Island to take the flight back to mainland Ecuador to connect with your international departure flight or extend your stay in Ecuador and visit other destinations.